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This issue seems somewhat paradoxical in nature, however, it just needs to be broken down step by step. The short answer is yes. Now there are prescriptions for "unintentional sin" but I find it more helpful to look at laws about specific sins. The first case is a Manslayer versus a Murderer. Numbers 35:6-34 The cities shall be to you as a refuge from the avenger, so that the manslayer will not die until he stands before the congregation for trial. [Numbers 35:12] So if a man kills another man he is protected until trial, however if it is found that he is a murderer he is to be killed [Numbers 35:21]; however, if the killing was an accident then: "The congregation shall deliver the manslayer from the hand of the blood avenger, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge to which he fled; and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil." [Numbers 35:25] Then there is this strange addition: "But if the manslayer at any time goes beyond the border of his city of refuge to which he may flee, and the blood avenger finds him outside the border of his city of refuge, and the blood avenger kills the manslayer, he will not be guilty of blood because he should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest the manslayer shall return to the land of his possession." [Numbers 35:26-28] This demonstrates that even though the killing was an accident, a wrong or a sin was still committed and there was still restitution to be made. There was still a punishment for "negligent killing", he didn't mean it, but he should have been more careful. In this case there is a clear difference between intentional and unintentional sin. The word in Hebrew for Manslayer versus Murderer is different, even though it's the same action, but the thought and the intent of the heart is accounted for. Another case is the Ox that gores [Exodus 21:28-29; 35-36] In summary, if the owner was aware of the fact that he had an ox in the habit of goring he was also responsible and will be stoned with the ox. The case only stands if he knows, so if he buys an ox in the habit of goring and he doesn't know only the ox will suffer, or if he did everything in his power to prevent an accident then he does not suffer. But if he intentionally ignores the fact that his ox gores, he is responsible. Knowledge and intent are key to sin. All sin is equal in that it equally separates us from God [Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23] but not all sin is the same... definitely not. For is it not said: "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur stricter judgement" [James 3:1] or "whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone aroud his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea" [Matthew 18:6]. I could go on and on with cases where this is implied, but the Bible says it better than me: "And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with His will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but a few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more." Luke 12:47-48 "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 Do not fret, God knows that we do not understand, for He is mindful of our frame that we are but dust, the LORD will judge according to the deeds and the heart for He is wise and loving. [Psalms 103:10-17]
Mankind is under the curse of the law. Every sin, whether it be intentional or unintentional, is punishable by God with death and hell. You cannot help but sin, because your sin nature compels you to do so. Being unsaved a good portion of my life, I sinned even when I didn't know it, because of the curse within me. Now, since God saved me and declared me righteous in His sight through the singular work of Christ on the cross, my slate is wiped clean. His mercies are new every morning, and I stand accepted and holy in His presence. Not by anything I have done for I could not have done anything to save myself, but because Christ took the cup in my place and drank it dry. When I sin, Christ's atoning work is there to wash me clean. I don't have to sacrifice or do anything to make myself acceptable anymore for Christ alone accomplished this task. Do I cry over my sin? Yes. Am I constantly broken over my flesh? Yes. Do I ask for forgiveness? Yes. But only out of a spirit of remorse and appreciation. If you are saved by Christ's work alone (you will understand if you have been truly saved), then intentional or unintentional sin makes no difference and has no bearing on your relationship with Him...UNLESS, you are habitually sinning and refuse to go to Him for help, then you are hurting that beautiful relationship and God will punish you accordingly.
Everyone who has responded to this answer has had many good things to say and to point out. Recently I have been noting that the Bible usually speaks of both transgressions and iniquities. Where as we tend to combine it all together as sin, there is definitely a difference between the two. To my understanding, transgressions are an outward act of the flesh when we sin against ourselves or another person. Iniquity is different in that they are inward sins which have become so common to our way of thinking that often we are not even aware that these ways are sin. We all have certain "ways" that we act or think, and to us they may seem right. But as Proverbs 16:25 says, "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Often our ways have been passed down to us through the family line. We do not recognise them as sin because this is the way that the family all acts or thinks, it has actually become part of our DNA and inherited sin. It is often because of our iniquities, and the way that we think, that we transgress because of this thinking. However, whether the sin is a transgression or an iniquity, Jesus Christ paid for it all. Isaiah 53:5 says, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." He was wounded and bled outwardly for the sins that we commit outwardly, (transgressions) and He bled inwardly, was bruised, for our inward sins. (iniquities) We need to pray and ask God to reveal our "ways" to us so that we can see for ourselves which of our ways are not His ways. Hebrews 4:12 has already been quoted by another responder, but is a great verse to show that God's word has the power to bring to light and cut away those things that are part of our thinking and intentions and even to the level of our DNA which is formed in our marrow. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
I suppose we need to somehow define 'sin'. Yes, God views unintentional and intentional sins differently. However, both types result in death (Romans 6:23), but God will pardon unintentional sins if we repent (Acts 17:30). If we keep on sinning willfully after we have come to a knowledge of the truth, God will not pardon such sin. Hebrews 10:26-27. Which brings us to the crucial question: what is sin? 1 John 3:4 KJV states, '..for sin is the transgression of the law'. So Paul, at Hebrews 10:26-27, is saying that if we deliberately keep on transgressing the law, after we have come to a knowledge of the truth, then no sacrifice for sin remains. We are doomed for destruction. Our God is just: He overlooks times of ignorance, but calls on all men everywhere to repent. Bless.
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